Saturday, July 4, 2009

Model English

For something completely different from my last post on teaching composition in the way that snakes exist in Ireland, check out Model English I available in public domain, by Francis P Donnelly, author of Principles of Jesuit Education. I have his book Model English II; it was given to me by a very kind homeschool friend. So I thought of looking for his other books online and was glad to find this one, which is subtitled "The Development of Thought".

Fr Donnelly was a Jesuit educator. The book was once called "Imitation and Analysis", which is the system that the Jesuits used to educate their students to think, speak and write well. There is no doubt that this system produced wonderfully educated people.

Now, though there are definitely differences between Charlotte Mason's method and the Jesuit one, there were more similarities than might at first be supposed. One similarity is that they believed reading and thoroughly assimilating high-quality literature laid the groundwork for future ability in expression. Another is that they believed that being mentored by great authors was of primary importance and the role of the teacher was to clear the way, not block the way with over-officious displays of learning. Another related one was that they both believed that the "self-activity" of the student was of first importance. No passive receiving of information poured into the brain allowed.

It is sometimes thought that by eschewing over-zealous activity on the part of the teacher, Charlotte Mason was advocating a "hands-off" attitude towards children's learning. However, this was far from being the case. Teaching, guiding etc. was to be done -- only, AFTER the child had had a chance to tackle the reading and consequent mental processes on his or her own.

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